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Toyota is investing $1 billion over the next five years to develop driver assistance systems that utilize artificial intelligence (AI) to improve vehicle safety, according to Toyota Research Institute (TRI) CEO Gill Pratt, who was cited by NBC News.
This will help Toyota reach its goal of producing a car that can drive on highways by itself (similar to Tesla’s Autopilot program) by the 2020 Olympics in Japan, Toyota’s home country. Driver assistance systems like collision avoidance and lane-change warning systems are often considered stepping-stones within the auto industry to fully autonomous cars.
Currently, driver assistance systems use image sensors and other technology to monitor their surroundings. However, AI would allow these systems to react better to potential dangers. Pratt explained that “The intelligence of the car would figure out a plan for evasive action … Essentially (it would) be like a guardian angel, pushing on the accelerators, pushing on the steering wheel, pushing on the brake in parallel with you.” For example, if another car enters the AI-equipped Toyota’s lane, the Toyota could direct itself into another empty lane to prevent a collision.
This move signals that Toyota is attempting to catch up with competitors in the autonomous car market.
- BMW announced earlier this year that it will launch the company’s first autonomous vehicle in 2021.
- Honda has shown off self-driving cars at a testing facility in California as recently as this month.
- Nissan introduced an autonomous version of the electric Leaf in January, although it plans to integrate its fully-autonomous technology into cars gradually, rather than all at once, according to Fortune.
Toyota has been one of the last automakers to enter the autonomous car race. The company’s president Akio Toyoda, was previously a skeptic of self-driving cars, but has now embraced the technology since a meeting with three company executives last September, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Safety is one of the key concerns consumers have about self-driving cars, and this is just one of many hurdles that automakers must overcome in order to get self-driving cars on the road in large numbers.
John Greenough, senior research analyst for BI Intelligence, has compiled a detailed report on self-driving cars that examines the major strides automakers and tech companies have made to overcome the barriers currently preventing fully autonomous cars from hitting the market. Further, the report examines global survey results showing where fully autonomous cars are highly desired.
Here are some key takeaways from the report:
- Three barriers have been preventing fully autonomous cars from hitting the road: 1) high technological component prices; 2) varying degrees of consumer trust in the technology; and 3) relatively nonexistent regulations. However, in the past six months, there have been many advances in overcoming these barriers.
- Technology has been improving as new market entrants find innovative ways to expand on existing fully autonomous car technology. As a result, the price of the components required for fully autonomous cars has been dropping.
- Consumer trust in fully autonomous vehicle technology has increased in the past two years.
- California became the first US state to propose regulations. California’s regulations stipulate that a fully autonomous car must have a driver behind the wheel at all times, discouraging Google’s and Uber’s idea of a driverless taxi system.
In full, the report:
- Examines consumer trust in fully autonomous vehicles
- Identifies technological advancements that have been made in the industry
- Analyzes the cost of fully autonomous technology and identifies how cost is being reduced
- Explains the current regulations surrounding fully autonomous cars
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The choice is yours. But however you decide to acquire this report, you’ve given yourself a powerful advantage in your understanding of the emerging world of self-driving cars.